HELP Paint removal from lima models

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Jorge, Jun 13, 2003.

  1. Jorge

    Jorge Member


    I have been away for awhile. I know this topic has been hammered to death but I really need the help of everybody on this one. I recently purchased an HO scale New South Wales Class 44 in the Candy Stripe scheme. I would like to know what is the best way of removing paint from Lima models, as I want to paint this model into the scheme of my freelanced railway. I am told Lima may use acrylic paint. I really want this to come off with out a hassle because these engines are very hard to find it took my 15 years to find the one I have. This is what a Class 44 or ALCO DL500C looks like.

    Thank you very much,

    Attached Files:

  2. TrainClown

    TrainClown Member

    I use to model 1/25 scale cars once apon a time, and I would often want to repaint them. As you probably know, plastic models are rather delicat when it comes to solvents and paint removers. The best thing to use for enamil is a finger polish remover. I'm not sure if it works on accrylic, but it might.

    What will work on acrylic is this stuff called Goof Off. It is sold in paint stores and removes latex paint (or any water base paint)that has spilled on rugs and stuff. I use it to clean out my brushes real good and it is safe for most surfaces including plastic.

    Fumes are bad so keep yourself well ventalated!

    Test on small inconspicuous spot first.
  3. Blake

    Blake Member

    Be careful with anything you use and test it first on an unseen part of the model. Some styrenes will react with a stripper while another styrene will not (all styrenes are not the same). The best stuff I've found is Scalecoat Wash Away. Their web address is at the bottom of this post. It safely removes the paint from most plastics (I have been using it for years and have never had a problem with it). Also, with prepainted models, it is sometimes impossible to remove all of the paint as the base coat tends to get a very good bite on the plastic. Solvent based paints will mildly attack the plastic and blend with it on a microscopic scale (you will not see these effects with the naked eye). In these cases, I just remove the lettering and the logos and paint right over the base coat.
  4. Blake

    Blake Member

    Hey Trainclown, I think fingernail polish is Acetone and will eat the plastic (I think?). Makes good martinis though!!!
  5. McFortner

    McFortner Member

    With some paints, I've had luck using 91% rubbing alcohol. Make sure you get the 91% and not the 70%, since 70% does not work as well. I usually buy a pint/half liter bottle and let the shell soak in it for a while, then scrub with an old tooth brush.

    Hope this helps.

  6. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    Fingernail Polish Remover is a glue!

    Trainclown, I'd second Blake about Finger Polish Remover (FPR): Hands off from that stuff for removing paint!

    LIMA models are (were?) fabricated from Polystyrene plastic. And this material simply dissolves in FPR! :eek: :eek: :eek:
    If you test it on the inside of the shell with a small drop you'll feel that the plastic gets tacky at once. While FPR might work for removing paint on a metal shell, it's deadly for many plastics.

    In fact, just because of that property, FPR still has its place in my workshop. Now and then I still build model racing cars, and I simply use it for glueing the styrene plastic parts together! Here it works like a charm! But never use too much of that stuff, or you HAD a kit!!! :D :D :D

    I used automobile brake fluid for removing paint on several models with success, just like Michael said (soak & scrub). But on one model the plastic became quite brittle and got lots of tiny cracks on the surface. So I'm passing this on with some hesitation. ALWAYS try the substance at an inconspicuous place!

  7. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Scale coat wash away works well on many plastics, but Atlas/Kato shells will disolve in it. I've used Pine Sol full strength on Atlas shells and it works well. The solvent in brake fluid that works is denatured alcohol. You can get denatured alcohol at any paint store, Hoime Depot, Lowes, etc. in gallons. Brake fluid will have oils mixed with the alcohol to help lubricate brake parts. Denatured works much better than isopropyl, which is what rubbing alcohol is.
  8. TrainClown

    TrainClown Member


    The finger nail polish remover I used worked like a charm. Perhaps it's the type of plastic involved. finger nail extention kits are made from plastic and it dosn't melt them or the glue used to hold them on. Best to read the lable and see if it is plastc friendly. Probably cheep FPM is just acetone, but I'm sure there is some that would work because I have used it and it didn't touch the plastic. Getting a cheep brand and charging ahead would risky.

    Goof Off is the stuff for latex and acrylic.
  9. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    you're right with the cheap finger polish removers - it's the Acetone which dissolves plastic. So you probably used an acetone-free brand, something I never tried.

    I forgot to say that my 'FPR-glue' always contained acetone - and this is also the cheaper version of all these removers. (That's why I used it! :D :D)

    Now where are we? See, we got finger polish removers which remove paint/don't remove paint, disssolve plastic/etch plastic/craze plastic/don't harm plastic and smell fine/stink. :eek: :p :D

    Hey, our ladies have quite a battery of chemicals in their make-up boxes! Just be careful with hand-kisses!!! :eek:

    thanks for the clarification about brake fluid. Just used it because I read somewhere about it - and it worked (most of the time). Since it is quite expensive, denatured alcohol might be a lot cheaper.

  10. Jorge

    Jorge Member

    HELP Paint removal from lima


    Thank you everybody for the advice, but I think I will have to use the Chameleon gel. It takes a couple of dippings into it for the paint to come off but its safer and will not wreck the lima shell. I am scared to ruin it because I have already repowered the engine, from a crappy running lima to a smooth runnning engine.

  11. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member


    I have many Australian Lima locos. I think you'll find the main prob is the candy stripes. The actual body is coloured.

    Those things are a dime a dozen here. Including the 44 class.

    Try here for detail parts and RTR models. ($160 AUS) (Athearn drive mechanism) and will probably do an undecorated one for you. (if you ask nicely).

    However, the Lima one are available for about $109 AUS ($70 US).

    Can't locate a website at the mo with them on. Will do so when I get home.
  12. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member


    My old LHS (in Sydney), before I moved away, has anything Australian and Lima. 44 class for $109 AUS, however they have certain road numbers on special for $79 AUS ($45 US) at the mo. (according to June 2003 Australian Model Railway Magazine).

    They''re not on the net, and only take mail/fax orders Mastercard or Visa. Not sure about international orders though.
  13. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Here's an old time stipping method that we used to use.

    Put about 8-12 oz of Tide detergent in about 1/2 gallon of water and toss the shell in for about 12 hours. It worked good on those old Varney and Athearn/Globe shells but don't know what it would do to modern plastics.

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